How does Pinterest make money? [2021 Revenue and History]

how does Pinterest make money

Do you want to change your haircut? Get some awesome DIY tips? Read Inspiring Quotes? Learn Vegan recipes? 

Whatever you’re looking for, Pinterest is the place to find it and get innovative ideas.

Pinterest is one of the most used sites on the internet today. It is a place where many people draw inspiration from, and with a good reason. 

And what’s more, you don’t need to download images and group them in folders or remember where you put them because the site lets you create boards with images that you can see whenever you log in. 

But I’m sure you already know that since Pinterest has been around for a while. 

Related: here’s a script to grow your Pinterest account

History of Pinterest

In 2009, Ben Silbermann founded Pinterest along with Evan Sharp, and a year later the site went live as an invite-only place for sharing images.

It was available for everybody in 2011 and in the first nine months of officially being launched it had more than 10.000 users. At that time, Pinterest was put on the list of “50 best websites” by Time Magazine.

After the strong start, by 2012, Pinterest had more than 11 million users worldwide which made the site one of the fastest-growing sites in general! 

This growth exceeded all expectations, and businesses took notice of that. They were encouraged to dip their toes in the new up and coming social media network.

One of the most popular things about Pinterest from the start was their grid-like design which offered something new to the internet users in terms of the innovative design and unique concept, and that’s still the case today.

And of course, behind all this, there is advertising as the main source of Pinterest’s revenue. The marketing potential is vast when it comes to this social media network.

How Pinterest works

Pinterest is a platform where users can save their favorite links and images, and “pin” them to their account. Usually, pins are grouped in themes known as a “board” to create different virtual albums. 

You can follow your favorite accounts and boards to get content related to what you like. 

You can also search for topics and inspo, like vacation:

Pinterest’s Stats and Demographics

Before I dive into how the site is making money, let’s look into how much money we are talking about, and some other stats related to this social media network.

Pinterest reported a growth of 62% or $261 million in year-over-year revenue in the second quarter of 2019 already. 

They also reported nearly $60 million more than the first quarter of the previous year. The majority of their earnings or $238 million out of those $261 million came from the U.S.

However, it was not all good and positive since Pinterest reported a net loss of $1.16 billion for the quarter which according to them was influenced by the restricted stock unit expense concerning their initial public offering (IPO).

Moving forward to the third quarter of 2019, Pinterest still had a very significant increase compared to last year’s. The reported growth in revenue was 47%.

Some of the other most relevant statistics to the way Pinterest earns and how it functions are:

The total number of monthly active users is above 300 millionThere are over 200 billion Pinterest Pins!The total number of Pinterest boards is more than 4 billion 2 million people save shopping pins on a daily basis

These stats are from the third quarter of 2019 and speak a lot about how many people actually come in contact with Pinterest on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis. This is, of course, relevant to the interested businesses in advertising through this platform.

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When it comes to demographics, Pinterest has some interesting statistics as well:

 Around 70% of all the users are femaleMen account for 40% of the new sign-upsMore than half of the users are from outside of the US.Millennials use Pinterest as much as InstagramThe majority of active users are below the age of 40, even though that is the median age on the platform144.5 million of people can be reached with ads according to Pinterest50% of the users earn $50K or more on a yearly basis, 10% earn $125K or more

These statistics are extremely relevant and can attest to why Pinterest is as successful as it is. As opposed to Instagram, the users of Pinterest are predominantly adults that earn money and can react to the ads quite more.

Pinterest User Growth

As I previously mentioned, in the beginning, Pinterest was an invite-only network. Despite that fact, the user base was growing tremendously, which is why in 2012 Pinterest dropped the invite-only registration process and let the platform grow even further. 

The launching of the Android Pinterest app furthermore increased the growth of the number of people that were using the platform.

From there, the user numbers went to staggering 49 million in February 2013, and by June this number was 70 million! By 2016, this number reached 150 million, and in 2018 291 million active users were on Pinterest. 

By the third quarter of 2019, this number was 300 million. This continuous growth has been noticed a while back by businesses and by Pinterest, which opened the doors for including advertising in their business model.

How does Pinterest make its revenue?

The first attempt to utilize these massive user base opportunities came in 2013 when Pinterest decided to offer business accounts to companies who want to market their products on the platform. With that, came the first revenue avenue of Pinterest. 

The way it operated and it still does, is through “promoted pins”. Now, we are all aware that Pinterest doesn’t have a very big audience compared to the other social media platforms.

However, what it does have is a very high conversion rate which is in many ways better than reaching more people with lower conversion rate. 

Pinterest says that “83% of weekly US Pinners from a brand pin”.

The reason behind the high conversion rate is that people are more influenced somehow to make purchases based on Pinterest compared to other platforms.

Another great option for retailers is the storefront option which allows people to buy directly from the retailers. So it’s very easy for users whatever they are interested in on Pinterest without even visiting another site.

If you want to sign up for Pinterest Business, you can do so here.

Promoted Pins ?

Here are examples of Pinterest’s “Shoppable Pins”, “Shop the Look” pins, and an actual ad on Pinterest.

Promoted pins show up in the user’s home feed, or they appear when they are searching for something specific. They are paid by businesses and have no differences with the normal pins which is why user engagement is great. 

This sole fact is why businesses choose to advertise there because it appears as a more organic way of advertising to the users, and they build trust in their brand.

If you decided to invest in Promoted pins, the way you need to go about it is selecting the Pins that you want to advertise on the platform along with a target audience and a selected budget. After that, your Pin will be promoted via an auction system that is also used in Google’s advertising. 

The system is called Pay-per-click (PPC) and it works on the principle of businesses bidding which Pins will be shown first.

You have to choose the maximum amount that you are willing to invest in order to win the bidding war. For this, you need to know who your target audience is exactly and choose the right timing to show the ads to them in order to achieve maximum engagement. 

These ads will be displayed either in the home feed of the users or in the search results when they type for keywords relevant to the ad.

More than 90% of the users of the platform actually use it as a “shopping list” or a place where they put all their planned purchases for the future. This is the reason why ads on Pinterest have a very high return on investment. 

The 4 types of Promoted Pins are:

Simple promoted pins- you pay to promote themVideo promoted pins- they include a videoOne-click promoted pins- they take you straight to the link connected to the pinApp promoted pins- have an app icon included along with an install button so you can directly install the app

$PINS Stock

In 2019, Pinterest decided to dive into the stock market and one of the most hyped initial public offerings happened. Even though the IPO was hyped, the predictions were mixed since the social media market is quite crowded with all the stocks from Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.

When it finally happened, there were some problems. However, this industry is known for slow starts as the case with Snap IPO that started off quite bad, but in later times it is one of the high performing stocks.

 After going up for a few sessions after the debut, the stock of Pinterest took a big dive and disappointed in the third quarter of 2019. The shares plunged 21%, a day after Pinterest reported disappointing results in the third quarter. 

Even with all these results, and the fact that a company doesn’t directly earn from good stock prices, there is still hope for Pinterest securing their place at the table of social media networks. The fact that Pinterest’s user base is still growing, is a good sign for everybody involved with it.

For the future, the expectations for Pinterest are high and bright. The total revenue in 2019 was 1.03 billion dollars from ads, and this number is expected to grow in 2020 by 363 million dollars.

How does Pinterest user base compare to other social media platforms?

While 300M users on Pinterest is certainly impressive, it doesn’t even put Pinterest at the top 10 social media platforms in terms of users. 

Facebook dominates with nearly 2.5B users. 


Pinterest is no longer a moms-only social network; 300M people find and collect useful links and images around the world. 

Pinterest makes money through its advertising network which includes Promoted Pins. 

Its revenues are not as massive as Facebook or Instagram’s but comparable to Snapchat’s. 

If you found this article helpful and want to know how other companies earn their revenues check out the following pieces: 

Let me know in the comments below which tech giant would you like me to dig apart next! 


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